US Airways 1549 Damage Photos

These photos were taken by the crane operator during salvage of the US Airways Flight 1549 aircraft.

It’s remarkable how little damage there was to the fuselage of this Airbus A320. Obviously the aircraft will never fly again — even minor damage incidents can cost millions of dollars to repair — but I think these images are important for us to examine. They illustrate not just how skillful the pilots were during the landing, but also just how much punishment these aircraft are built to take.

Airliners are tough. They endure year after year of constant use, often 16 hours a day or more. They travail the -60 degree flight levels, then bake in 110 degree summer heat. They are pressurized and de-pressurized tens of thousands of times. They fly through punishing turbulence, endure lightning strikes, and even the occasional bird strike. Amazing, isn’t it?

The radome damage (on the nose of the aircraft) was probably a bird strike from the same flock that took out the engines. The right engine cowling is pretty mangled, but that could also have been at least partly from the birds.

In several of the photos you can even see one of the checklists, flight plans, or other crew documents still sitting on the glareshield. It’s almost as if the aircraft is saying, “hey, we’ve still got one more leg to fly, guys!”.

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